VALDOSTA — The COVID-19 coronavirus has claimed more victims: Regal Marine’s plant in Valdosta and the 105 jobs that go with it.
The luxury pleasure boat manufacturer announced this week it is closing its facility on Gil Harbin Boulevard permanently, according to a statement from the company.
Closing the Valdosta plant and consolidating its three product lines with Regal’s Orlando location “was prompted and deemed prudent due to the projected economic impact associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus,” Regal CEO Duane Kuck said in the statement.
The closure is expected to be completed by the end of May, the company said.
The 165,000-square-foot Valdosta plant, which has been owned by Regal and operational since 2001, is expected to remain open through May to complete all boat orders in process.
Duane Kuck and Regal Executive Vice President Tim Kuck met with the Valdosta employees Monday to explain the situation. Workers will be provided financial assistance through the Kuck family’s “Regal Cares” program, supported through Helping Hands Inc., a national charity, the statement said.
Valdosta team members will also have direct and ongoing access to optional HR and outsourcing support along with family counseling services.
Tim Kuck said he hopes some of the Valdosta employees will consider relocating to Orlando.
Regal Marine, founded in 1968 by Paul M. Kuck, came to Valdosta in 2001 when it bought a plant that had been closed by another boat builder, Bayliner Marine.
The building was purchased with money from the OneGeorgia Authority, which provides grants and loans for economic development; there were also substantial local investments, and Regal Marine set up a lease/purchase plan to buy the building during a 12-year period.
The Valdosta plant employed 200 people in the early 2000s, and Regal had hoped to double that number of jobs within a decade, according to past news coverage.